Written by: Adam Vaughn | January 21st, 2022
The Tiger Rising (Ray Giarratana, 2022) 2½ out of 4 stars.
I did not go into The Tiger Rising with high expectations, as many of its main ideas have been introduced in previous films (Life of Pi, for example, will forever be the model for using a tiger in a narrative). However, as a story about children, with highly family-oriented content and tone, The Tiger Rising is nothing short of a heartfelt and entertaining experience, fleshing out fun and relatable characters. While it may lose points for overused plot beats and clichéd dialogue, The Tiger Rising is very aware of its audience and delivers exactly what they want.
The film follows young Rob (Christian Convery, Aliens Stole My Body) shortly after he and his father (Sam Trammell, American Refugee) lose their mother (Katharine McPhee, Bayou Caviar) to cancer. Living out of a Florida motel, Rob finds comfort in discovering a caged tiger, owned by the motel’s sleazy owner Beauchamp (Dennis Quaid, American Underdog). At the same time, Rob makes friends with an equally ferocious girl at school, Sistine (Madalen Mills, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey), and the two find friendship and self-growth while debating what to do with the poor, confined big cat.
The film certainly has a powerhouse of actors at its disposal, with a warm and insightful turn from Queen Latifah (Girls Trip) as a motel maid turned prophetess. The performances are overall fun, all the way down to the young characters played by Convery and Mills, who keep the bouncy, childish energy going, throughout. By the end of the film, a bittersweet and well-deserved happy ending leave the viewer satisfied enough.
While the movie scores for keeping its premise simple easy to follow, The Tiger Rising feels like any other film featuring a boy and a girl, yet with less originality to make it stand out on its own. Even though I appreciate a good creature in a feature, the tiger feels more like a gimmick than a relevant story element, and the movie film almost be told without the animal in it at all. Script-wise, The Tiger Rising offers absolutely no risk-taking whatsoever, keeping a clean, methodical pace and following a fairly generic pathway. While families may enjoy a second viewing, I doubt everyone will.